It looks like many bank branches are doing more than just shutting down for Christmas as new research from Which? finds that high street banks have closed over 1,000 branches in the last two years.
Using figures from the banks, the research shows that HSBC closed down the most amount of branches during the two year period, 321 branches or over a quarter (27%) of their branch network.
Lloyds Banking Group closed down 212 branches (16% of their network), while RBS closed down more, with 191 branches, but equalling a lower share of its network (10%).
Which? research points out that Wales, Scotland and south-west England, the areas with the most closures, are also the ones with the most rural areas.
To makes matters worse, some areas, like the one in Derbyshire Dales, where there have been 9 closures, the internet speeds are “inadequate” for online banking.
HSBC told Which? that the last half a decade, footfall in its branches fell by 40% as more people start using online banking. Yet, Which?, citing government figures says that would leave 20 million who don’t use online banking and rely on traditional branches.
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive officer, said: “Access to the services necessary to make everyday banking possible should be simple and straightforward. We’ve seen some good examples of banks acting responsibly and in the interest of local communities when they close branches.”
He also stressed that banks must do a better job of understanding the customers’ needs and that of the local communities, particularly when changes such as bank closures are being made.
Full Which? report and the interactive map.
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